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When we’ve got politicians like Rod Blagoevich out there doing the real pay to play thing I find it quite sad for people to focus on something like librarians playing Rock Band at work…  Come on people, let’s move on into the 21st Century!  We should be congratulating these librarians and their communities not condoning them…  So I say, “Way to go Nebraska librarians!!”

Read the story here:  TV News, State Officials Investigate Rock Band-Playing Librarians… But Weren’t They Just Doing Their Job?

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The goal of my research this semester was to somehow bring together teens, libraries, and the arts with a proposal of how the principles of Library 2.0 could play a part in that.

Multiple studies have found the same evidence time and time again – an education in the arts undoubtedly increases the learning capacity and literacy of students. Every library’s mission statement includes some level of dedication to improving literacy and encouraging the pursuit of lifelong learning. I found several non profit arts for literacy type groups working toward community partnerships with schools, but I was hoping to find a great number of libraries involved with these efforts or creating their own. I didn’t find what I was hoping for, and I’d like to see that change.

Libraries are now faced with a great challenge when it comes to bringing young adults in. Teens often don’t think of libraries as that ‘third space’ that they’re looking for. So, how can the arts help with this? Studies show that the arts help create that ‘third space’ type atmosphere that often alludes schools and libraries.

Take a look at Imaginon in North Carolina and you’ll get an idea of what is possible if we really want it. Granted they had the money to do a lot, but even small libraries can create similar environments with programming and community partnerships.

What can you do to help?

Here are a few links to organizations online with information about the arts and literacy.

ArtsLiteracy Project 

National Arts and Music Education Initiative 

Americans for the Arts 

Arts Education Partnership 

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I have a new favorite thing…

I’m not sure why I haven’t played it before gaming night for class last week – we own the game at my library, and the teens love it. Granted they tend to want it all for themselves, but when I said to one of them, “How come y’all have never asked me to play?” She reminded me that she had, and I was too busy… Well, that’s about to change.

After I got home from our lively gaming class, I dragged my guitars (on loan from my fantastic boss at Brookfield Public Library), plugged them in to my PS2 and started playing. Needless to say, I went to bed way too late that night… My boyfriend is now hooked as well, and we have both played every night since. I started a band, LIBRARYSTORR, and I’m getting pretty good – whittling down the high scores now, and I find myself humming Kansas songs all day that I never even liked before.

How does this apply to libraries? I know the teens love to come here and play, because they do. My library has two different monthly events where we have gaming, and they are very well attended. Our last Late Night at the Library saw 54 teens in the building for 3 hours!

How does me knowing how to play the games figure in? I can relate to them. When they see me jumping around on the DDR mats, a little of that authority figure intimidation is gone. It brings some humanity to the library, and to me as the librarian. And, of course, there’s nothing more illuminating than having a casual conversation with a 16-year-old about how hard Freebird is on Medium.

As I continue to hone my new, if a little obsessive, skills on Guitar Hero I keep in the back of my head the practice of a fellow teen librarian that I’ve been impressed with ever since I first read about it on Jenny Levine’s blog, The Shifted Librarian. Maybe some day soon I’ll be good enough that teens in Brookfield can challenge me to release fines or get cool prizes.

Here’s a video of my first-ever Guitar Hero performance with my classmate and friend Marlene on bass (I’m the curly headed one on guitar), recorded by another classmate and friend, Ruth – The Utopian Library. (I swear I’m much better at this now!) 🙂 If you haven’t already, give it a try and enjoy!

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